On May 25, 2001, Erik Weihenmayer climbed up to Touch the Top Of The World. And in doing so, he became the first blind man to ever reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
Pretty astounding feat, huh? I thought so, too. And then I saw the trailer for BLINDSIGHT, a documentary chronicling Weihenmayerâ€™s return journey back up Everest in 2004. Only this time, he upped the ante by leading a group of six blind Tibetan teenagers to the 21,500-foot pinnacle of Everestâ€™s Rombuk Glacier.
Talk about an encore.
I went back to promoting books for the rest of the afternoon, but my thoughts kept drifting back to that documentary. How could that team have ascended the worldâ€™s highest mountain without being able to see what they were doing or where they were going? More than two hundred people have died on Everest â€“ and they all had the use of their eyes! So what would navigating such a treacherous landscape in the dark feel like? And what compelled this group of challenged teens to embark on such a trek?
Climber Sabriye Tenberken summed up the mindset nicely: â€œA lot of people say I canâ€™t do it because Iâ€™m blind, or I have red hair, or my feet are too big. Get the right team around you, donâ€™t set boundaries, and go for it.â€
As I lay in bed that night, it dawned on me that there must be a whole library full of publishers who can almost relate to the uncertainty those kids must have felt. Technology has blasted their old publishing models to cybereens, forcing them to start asking absurdly relevant questions like, What is a book? and Should we give them away for free? Experimental new publishing models are popping up by the day, causing many to feel like the whole industry is a case of the blind leading the blind.
So whatâ€™s a traditional publisher to do? Well, if you want to continue to publish, adopt Tenberkenâ€™s philosophy—Surround yourself with the right team, avoid setting boundaries, and go for it. The bright side of exploring this new world is there arenâ€™t a lot of established rules to adhere to.
In fact, the only thing you really have to do is use technology to find new ways to connect to your potential readers. If you can shed some light on how to effectively do that, youâ€™ll see your publishing business rise to new heights.
What do you say? Are you ready to start your climb? Are you ready to encourage and inspire your authors to run a book promotion campaign that will be remembered for years in the book industry? Just take it one step at a time. I guarantee you–thatâ€™s how Tenberken and those Tibetan teenagers got to the top of Mt. Everest.
Questions about selling books in the Digital Era may be directed to Michael R. Drew at the Austin, Texas, headquarters of Promote A Book: 512-858-0040. You can also contact Michael via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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